Disaster in Japan and the science of belief

Last week, I spoke with research psychologist Jesse Bering for Bloggingheads Science Saturday—a weekly feature that records interesting conversations between science bloggers. Unsurprisingly, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan were on both our minds. But I think you'll find Jesse's take on this stuff particularly interesting. He studies the human tendency to believe in the supernatural, and he had a lot of thought-provoking things to say about that instinct, how it affects even unbelievers during disaster situations, and why belief was useful to our ancestors, but isn't necessarily something that we need today.

If you've been following my posts about the nuclear crisis here on BoingBoing, you'll have probably heard most of what I talked about in the video already. To watch Bering's section, jump ahead in the video to the 21-minute mark.